Cary, NC — 300: Rise of an Empire is the long awaited follow up to 2006’s 300. Instead of acting like a direct sequel to the original hit, Rise of an Empire actually takes place during the events of the first film’s plot and follows a Greek general who is dealing with the repercussions of the 300 Spartan soldiers waging war against the powerful Persian army.
Rise of an Empire Proves a Disappointing Sequel
Right out of the gate, Rise of an Empire had an uphill battle. The original 300 proved to be an entertaining and rousing action movie with a classic underdog story line featuring star-making performances from Gerard Butler and the recently Oscar nominated Michael Fassbender ( 12 Years A Slave).
Unfortunately, it seems that Rise of an Empire really doesn’t have what it takes to crawl out of the original’s shadow.
Lack of Charismatic Cast
The film’s biggest problem is its male cast.
The original can’t be accused of having the most complex characters in film, but most of the soldiers were brought to life with gusto and charisma, almost all of whom had memorable moments. In the original, Gerard Butler not only gave a forceful performance as King Leonidas, but he was also insanely ripped, making his character genuinely intimidating.
However, in Rise of an Empire, no single character stands out. The main character, played by Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton, is a Greek general who we are told multiple times is some kind of great leader and warrior, but the film never shows either of those qualities to the audience. In the original, Butler was able to do a lot with very little, but Sullivan doesn’t really bring anything memorable to the table, resulting in a bland and unmemorable hero.
Green is the Film’s Lone Saving Grace
The film’s saving grace comes in the form of Eva Green ( Casino Royale, Kingdom of Heaven).
Green plays Artemesia, the film’s villain and right hand to the evil king Xerxes, and she has an absolute blast. Her character is a ruthless and skilled killer who takes great joy in waging war, and Green gives it her all.
The result is the most entertaining performance of the film, and I honestly had more fun when she was onscreen than when the film’s hero was. That’s not really a good sign when you actually like the villain more than the hero.
Skip This Sequel
Honestly, 300: Rise of an Empire isn’t a terrible movie. The action is fine and the film moves at a good pace. But in the end, it can’t recreate the fun and rousing entertainment the original 300 provided, and at the very least shouldn’t a sequel accomplish just that? Stay home and watch the original instead.
Jordan Hunt covers the movies for CaryCitizen. Read more Movie Reviews.